Multitasking is the word. As our lives become faster, and commutes longer, anyone in his/her right state of mind would want to make use of that time. Unless you’re driving, because in that case, nothing is more important than driving itself! Technologies like Wi-Fi can effectively turn your car into a mobile workspace or even a mini entertainment hub. We take a look at the ups and downs.
Recently, Opera, the Internet browser company, decided to bring web to some 20 or so cities through its WOW (Web On Wheels) Ambassador. That’s a great initiative indeed and some premium cars come with the said functionality in the infotainment system, too, but with a Wi-Fi dongle you can do the same, too. All it requires is a 3G/4G connection (2G speeds can be frustrating) and a 12-volt socket. Ford India also used the same trick to offer Wi-Fi in its 2014 Figo, picture of which (courtesy Motorbeam) can be seen below.
On the work aspect, it will allow you to connect multiple devices to the dongle, so if it’s a couple of your friends travelling in one car, all of them can use their laptops simultaneously. While most phones can also act as Wi-Fi hotspots but that limits your phone usage, and data charges can be relatively higher.
In the entertainment department, the ability to access high speed internet can be a boon to passengers, as it allows streaming of music and movies. It can be particularly useful if you forgot your favourite music CDs/pendrives at home, and kids can access their favourite cartoons, most likely on their headrest mounted iPads.
Unlike home broadband which is mostly dependent on optical fibre, so reception quality doesn’t vary. But since you’re mobile now, what happens is the connectivity can be a bit troublesome. The problem actually worsens during inter-state travel.
Limited usage and higher costs
Unlike home broadband (and like phone Internet), service providers cap the usage on Wi-Fi dongles, too. So not only do you get limited data, you also pay a little higher than what you would in case of home broadband. So a stricter discretion is advised, if you don’t want to waste money. It’s the multimedia content that gobbles up data quickly, which includes streaming content like music and videos.
Looking at the popular 4G and 3G data rates (in Delhi NCR), expect to pay Rs 850 for a 5GB usage Vodafone (3G) and Airtel, Rs 999 for 20GB on MTS and Reliance while Photon charges about Rs 1,500 for 10GB of data.
And what about the dongle/router?
Well, most companies offer their Wi-Fi ready routers these days, which are plug and play devices. Plug them into the car’s USB socket and you’re good to go. Alternatives include pocket-sized routers that can be charged from the USB sockets and can be hooked up with non Wi-Fi dongles. These don’t cost a lot, and if you already have a USB dongle with you, getting a small router could do the job.